Kaia Stone is a sixteen-year-old girl on a mission to save thousands on a faraway island from a crippling, age-old curse. And, in this fascinating, well-written fantasy saga, she sets off on a ship one day and never looks back. For once in her young life, she feels she’s doing something worthwhile.
This is classic, world-building fiction with a YA focus. The author skillfully sets the scene, describing in meticulous detail everything in this imaginative landscape, from the curious little creatures called canonipoms, to the awesome and revered island of the Zavonia, where councilors hold mysterious sway.
It is from these august councilors — also called the Speakers — that Kaia receives her charge: to deliver a message to King Richard that could lift the curse on the Island of Mar. Kaia’s mother, although reluctant to let her daughter embark on the quest, nevertheless agrees that it is Kaia’s destiny:
“Something rare glimmers within you. I can see it, I always have. It shows itself on the bleakest of days, when misery runs rampant, and desolation seizes control of the helm, sailing into all that is grim, all that is foul, and all that inspires dread.”
And so she sets out with her sister, Elania, and a host of Princes to deliver her message to the King. Along the way, they meet creatures both fearsome and wondrous — some of whom emerge from the questing group itself, as they are “turned” — morphing quickly and suddenly into bloodthirsty beasts with razor-sharp teeth.
The travelers encounter enormous protective dragons, and forbidden fields of forgetfulness as they journey to meet the King. But despite being attacked by more fell beasts, and sustaining grave injuries, they nevertheless arrive at Enbeck — the site of the king’s castle — only to receive a royal shock.
This well-told tale is layered in both rich environment and characterization. Reminiscent of Tolkien’s fantastic — yet strangely familiar — construction of an entirely new world, the author succeeds wonderfully at creating a quest — and heroine — that is at once believable and utterly credible. Be sure to read all the way to the end, however, for the novel’s knock-your-socks-off surprise ending.
Five stars to Capering On Glass Bridges, and kudos to its accomplished author. Seldom have I read such a well-written and carefully edited piece of fiction. It was truly a joy to escape to this mythical land for awhile.